Lighthouses, Rahab and Obedience


It was my lighthouse, my prayer chamber, although I wouldn’t have called it praying then. I could sit on the north shore and on a clear day you could see the outline of Boston. Sorting out questions and hopes and dreams. It was my quiet place to go. My secret escape from a house of roommates and the lively chaos of those first years out of college.

It was becoming harder to quiet the whispers of my soul. The awakening of a faith I had not abandoned, but gently set aside in my teen years. The shedding of layers that were making me into someone I was not. A beacon to me of something more.

Each journey there, I knew more freedom. Building. Until one day, I knew it was time. And I left the coast for a land locked state in the middle of the country. Of course it was not that simple. And yet it was. Pursuing an MBA gave the crazy notion some substance to those asking.

And I remember that season, some twenty years ago. And I think, I have never been so obedient. Obedient to a whisper I didn’t understand. Obedient to mystery. Obedient to a life-giving relationship that was inviting a journey to freedom.

Obedient before the word had baggage and religion to weigh it down.

“I run in the path of your commands for you have set my heart free.”

Years go by and obedience becomes more tricky. So many voices saying what it should look like. I know it’s just the one voice I want to hear. The one that talks about running in the path of commands. Not restrictive nor legislative.  Active. Running. The one that knows intimately of true freedom, a safe place for my soul. Obedient to more than a list or expectations.

“By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.”

How can you not marvel at this story? She was a prostitute. She hid the spies. She lied to the authorities. And she is considered obedient.

Obedience to something bigger. Something revolutionary. Something worth risking it all.

And I wonder what that kind of obedience looks like in my everyday life? In the “getting kids up and off to school, doing another load of laundry, figuring out what to have for dinner” kind of life. When it seems easier to be obedient to a do list and tasks, than to a voice I can’t always hear.

I live in those questions.

And on the days when lighthouses and Rahabs seem a distant memory, the questions make trustworthy companions. And together we seek this glorious kind of obedience.


Linking up with Diana Trautwein’s new conversation, Living the Questions

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  1. HisFireFly says:

    not easy to listen
    even harder to hear
    but oh, so worth it

    • Karin- yes ‘oh so worth it’. Need to remember. Would love to hear your thoughts on obedience, I saw where you said it has been a theme for you for a while!

  2. Diana Trautwein says:

    Oh, Melanie – this is rich and wonderful. Thank you so much for writing, for linking, for adding to the conversation we’re building together. Where is this quote from? “I run in the path of your commands for you have set my heart free.” A psalm, I think. But which one? Pulling Rahab’s story into this is pure genius! Thanks so much.

    • Diana- thank you so much for creating the space to link. Living questions has been such a huge part of growing closer to God throughout my life.
      The verse is Psalm 119:32. Some translations say ‘…for you enlarge my heart’ or ‘…have broadened my understanding’. I think that ESV and World English Bible (WEB) translate it set my heart free. (Don’t know if I’ve read WEB for anything else, but that has always stayed with me!)
      Grateful for your conversation and encouragement.

  3. Oh. “Years go by and obedience becomes more tricky. So many voices saying what it should look like. I know it’s just the one voice I want to hear.” Oh. My eyes welled up.

  4. Hi Melanie, I came over from Diana’s blog. Your post has made me re-think my take on obedience. Maybe I’ve been more obedient than I thought I had been – I’ve had a remarkably similar experience to yours, in the obeying whispers department! 🙂
    Still thinking, still pondering…
    Thank you for this new slant on it!

  5. Nancy Franson says:

    Hi Melanie–stopping over from Diana’s. Love the image you painted of your lighthouse prayer chamber on the north shore of Boston.

    You’ve raised some thoughtful questions here about the nature of obedience and also introduced the notion of freedom–a gift we receive in responding to the Shepherd’s voice. Beautiful post.

  6. “A glorious kind of obedience”–thank you for these thoughts about obedience without all the trappings.


  1. […] loved that the story of Rahab came up in one of the linked posts, and also the reflection on civil disobedience, which was linked near the end of our celebration of […]

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